Most of us probably did not know that the first electronic commerce transaction occurred in the NetMarket website way back in 1994.
Since then, e-commerce has turned to be one of the reasons why people go online in order to do different things related to it such as buying, selling, performing financial transactions that are available for commercial purposes over the Internet.
At present, a lot of options are readily available in full and large scale eCommerce applications and solutions.
The choices can make your head spin. In this regard, it is just right to be informed about the many popular Ecommerce platforms and their advantages and disadvantages for your digital enlightenment.
One of the most popular open-source eCommerce platforms and is based on PHP or Hypertext Preprocessor e-commerce solution for online traders is OpenCart.
This platform is excellent for startups and if you need greater speed to market as it is enhanced with very powerful eCommerce tools like shopping carts and you only need a minimum investment to use this platform.
- Since it is an open-source platform, it does not limit the number of users
- Have communities of support
- Supports multiple languages and currencies
- Includes numerous add-ons and plug-ins
- Embedded with templates to add products
- Even non-programmers can maintain the platform
- Documentation support is not so comprehensive
- There are reported difficulties during the installation process.
This is probably one of the oldest eCommerce platforms. It is used by large eCommerce websites due to many arresting features such as being an open-source platform and you can download it free of charge.
As it is an open-source eCommerce solution, programmers can modify the source codes and introduce more features and functions either by installing or creating plug-ins or add-ons.
- Ability to handle multiple stores and multiple websites and you can manage customers and sales in one database
- It has multi-currency and multi-language support, shipping, order management, international support, and many other features.
- It can be used regardless if your business is small, medium, or large as you can scale and customize it based on the size of your business and other requirements.
- Search engine friendly due to clean tags, URLs, and descriptions of keywords.
- Encourages customers to order more items due to cross-sells and up-sells features.
- The user interface is not that great even though it is loaded with features and add-ons.
- Probably due to the overloading of features, the performance of this e-commerce platform tends to be slower and you need to fix it from time to time.
- You need to hire experts to create more complex and layered coding when you want to customize it.
- Since it is PHP based, it needs a large memory and server dedicated to it alone.
Another open-source and can be downloaded free and customized when needed is SpreeCommerce. However, you need to pay for hosting and gateway fees.
There are no transaction fees involved and it supports all usable merchant gateways. Integrated features are supported by Wombat which is an eCommerce operating system of this platform. This platform is fast becoming the standard when it comes to open e-commerce solutions.
- It is loaded with very attractive templates that are easy on the eyes of the customer and of course your ecommerce administration.
- Very clean codes; thus, search engine friendly too
- There is excellent documentation on the website.
- Since it is hosted by Ruby on Rails, it is more difficult compared with PHP/MYSQL based ecommerce platforms especially when there is sharing of platforms involved.
- It has few extensions; thus, you end up with fewer products to load and fewer stores to manage in this ecommerce platform.
This is an open-source eCommerce platform and designed to serve as an extension for Joomla or Mambo CMS (content management system).
It is PHP based and needs MYSQL database management for storage. It is suitable for low to medium-sized websites between low to medium levels of traffic. Some of its amazing features include an unlimited number of categories or products, provides catalog mode, multiple pricing, and allow usage of different payment modes.
- Since it is an extension or a plug-in, it is easy to install and customize.
- Less demanding compared with other open source platform and easy to set up a store in seconds and less hosting requirements.
- There is huge documentation that you can use extensively when problems occur.
- It is SEO friendly, supports multi-languages and currencies.
- Not enough premium features compared with other ecommerce platforms
- Fewer add–on templates; thus, customization is limited
PrestaShop is used by more than 125,000 online stores and with community support of over 350,000 members. Indeed, this is a very popular eCommerce platform considering that this one just started in 2007.
This is the most popular Ecommerce platforms for start-ups; however, many experienced programmers are lured into this platform too. It boasts of quality features such as automated email follow up, SEO optimization, catalog management, mobile themes, multi-payment options, international shipping, recent product views, and promo tools like coupons and vouchers.
- Easy to install and customize
- At 5.5MB, it is compatible for users with slow Internet connections.
- It has an official store where one can buy modules and themes to enhance your online store.
- Not so much on technical terms; thus, user interface is very good.
- Free to use and no transaction fees
- The modules and themes are expensive to buy.
- It still doubtful if this one can support a multi-store.
- Not good for large scale e-commerce activities
- Design attributes are not that good and not attractive
This is the eCommerce counterpart of WordPress. Thus, if you can easily install WordPress, then you can do the same with this platform and it is free also. This has become a very popular eCommerce platform due to its high level of usability and functionality, ease of use, and flexible customization.
Web developers and designers can have total access to source code which can provide unlimited options in terms of function and design customization. As an open-source platform, you get basic features like shopping cart, marketing tools, database management features, and among others.
- It features an easy installation process.
- Supports unlimited products and categories
- Hundreds of design themes to choose from
- Shipping and payment options can be altered.
- It has email marketing features.
- Lots of marketing plug-ins like a Facebook Store
- SEO friendly eCommerce platform
- Lack of high-end store eCommerce features
- You have to buy when you want additional features.
- No comprehensive documentation support
This eCommerce platform is free to use for 30 days and once the free trial is up, you can buy any of their available plans which will cost you anywhere from $29 for the basic plan and $179 for the diamond plan.
This is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms with over 150,000 stores using it. This could be due to its robust features which allow adding tags, page titles, and URLs for SEO, multiple product supports, multi-tax options, easy shipping rates configuration, multiple payment options, multi-language support, and statistical data on your dashboard for example.
- Does not need a high level of technical expertise to manage the platform
- Easy to install with more than 100 templates to choose from to begin the installation process.
- It offers affordable rates as the cost will only start at $14 per month.
- Also, provide community support and a team of online support ready to serve clients 24/7.
- It is SEO friendly and loaded with effective marketing tools.
- High-end features come with their most expensive plan. For example, you have to pay an additional $20 if you want to embed your store with real-time shipping features.
- Theme updates are not free and you have to pay for it; otherwise, you will not get the update and the upgrade that goes with the update.
- You need to spend more when you build an online store application and add more stores for example. Thus, you have to check things that come along with your subscription plan.
- No detailed reports or statistics once the 90-day trial ends and you have to upgrade to Pro or Unlimited plan if you want to have these reports and statistics.
- It does not come with a built-in email or newsletter system.
So which is the best Ecommerce platform?
Clearly, there is no such thing as a perfect Ecommerce platform. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses.
The process of selecting the right platform depends on many factors such as the number of stores, online coverage, product and category mix, payment options, the scale of business, and its operation, just to name a few.
Hope you find the list of most popular Ecommerce platforms useful.
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